After watching the horrific events in Connecticut today, I feel raw. My consciousness is serrated with visions of wide-eyed, terrified children and parents consumed by that universe-splitting moment of shock and grief and loss.
And I keep asking myself, what do we DO with those visions? With these feelings of helplessness and grief?
I saw people take to Facebook, to Twitter, to their blogs. Some of us shouted about gun control, others about mental health awareness. Others are disgusted by talk of politics in this time of shock and unbearable sadness. Still more write of their connections to the shootings – “my brother’s friend’s wife is a teacher there.”
And my truth is that I was raised in Connecticut. I’m the mother of a first grader (and a pre-schooler). I’m a former teacher. I live in an affluent suburb. I have reasons to feel connected to these events as a woman, as a mother, as an American.
But really, we need only be human to feel connected to this tragic event.
And that’s what struck me most about all of the articles, blogs, status updates, and tweets. Regardless of the content or the timbre of each post, there is a thread that connects all of them. All of us. Whether we cried in a spouse’s arms or by ourselves in front of the TV, whether we rushed to pick our kids up from school or just spent an extra minute hugging them tight, whether we raged about the need for gun control or judged the shooter’s parents, we couldn’t turn away. We are connected to each of those grieving mothers, fathers, siblings, and spouses by the very nature of our humanity. We are a part of this.
And what I know about grief is that the only way out is through.
In our powerlessness to change the past, we feel moved to do something. (“Just tell me how I can help so I don’t have to sit here and feel this!”) Well, friends, there will be ample opportunity in the near future. There will be scholarship funds and care packages. There will be donations to be made and cards to be sent. There will be prayers and candles and moments of silence. All of that is important and necessary and right-sized.
But I need more.
Tonight I cuddled with my six-year-old and memorized the scent of her freshly-shampooed hair. I held my three-year-old and gave her extra sweets so she’d stay on my lap just a moment longer.
And still I need more.
What I really need is to not feel so confused and afraid of humanity. What I really want is to feel soothed and comforted by the strength of my connections with others and to revisit my belief that we belong to each other; that we are all interconnected. I need to live that value by looking into the eyes of every person in my life and telling them, in words or deed, that they matter. I want to bear compassionate witness to the lives of others by listening with my ears and my eyes and my heart.
I can’t make sense out of horrific violence any more than the next guy and I don’t have any answers. No amount of logic or investigation will lessen my sadness for the families in Connecticut who are grieving tonight. But I do know that in reaching out to you, my fellows, I find my path to healing. And in connecting my life to yours, I find my road to peace.